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crm software systems CRM 2.0 Social Media Evolution and Best Practices

Web 2.0 Spawns CRM 2.0

By Earl Daniels,

The continued emergence and relative maturity of the Web 2.0 social media phenomenon has paved the way for CRM 2.0. While there is no single agreed upon definition of CRM 2.0, most industry observers agree that CRM 2.0 leverages several social media tools, technologies and methods which collectively improve the customer experience and long term customer relationships.

In his March 2008 paper, "The CRM 2.0 Imperative," author William Band, VP and principal analyst for business process and applications at Forrester Research described this social media movement as "the social Web ... includes fast-growing peer-to-peer (P2P) activities like blogging, RSS, file sharing, open-source software, podcasting, search engines, and user-generated content." CRM 2.0 tools and technologies include, but are not limited to, blogs, podcasts, wikis, forums and social networking sites.

When merged with more-traditional technologies such as email and instant messaging, these tools become synergistic in enabling the creation of virtual communities built around common interests, whether crm software selection projects, sales force automation best practices or ERP software implementations. Web 2.0, and its CRM 2.0 derivative, has evolved the Internet from a source of information presentation to a community destination based on two way interaction, knowledge sharing and user generated content.

In his social media research report, Forrester's Band comments that rapid adoption of Web 2.0 tools is not just a technology advancement, but a generational one as well, noting that "22% of adults now read blogs at least monthly, and 19% are members of a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn. Even more surprising, almost one-third of all youth publish a blog at least weekly, and 41% of youth visit a social networking site daily."

Analyst Band also suggests that the true nature of the 2.0 shift is less about technology and more about the shift in control and power. "Web 2.0 began as a user-focused revolution," he writes, "remaking the consumer Web into a landscape that is easy to use, efficient to navigate, populated by self-generated content (versus corporate propaganda) and driven by ad-hoc and established communities of people with similar interests. In a Web 2.0 world, power moves from institutions to consumers because they can now rapidly connect and digitally converse among themselves about the products and services they buy."

CRM Software Solutions Get Social

CRM software vendors are experimenting with ways of incorporating CRM 2.0 tools with traditional Customer Relationship Management software systems. While most CRM 2.0 solutions are still in the development phase, don't expect CRM 2.0 technologies to replace traditional marketing, sales force automation or customer support applications but instead to find interesting ways to integrate and compliment traditional CRM software solutions with less traditional web 2.0 tools.

ERP software maker Sage Software is one of many vendors building CRM 2.0 tools into its CRM software systems, including its Act! contact manager product. Lead by a series of executive blogs (by David van Toor, GM for Sage CRM solutions for North America; Larry Ritter, the SVP of global product management; and Pierre Semaan, SVP of technology for global CRM) which provide an informal look at topics such as strategy, best practices, trouble-shooting and CRM 2.0 itself, Sage has outlined its go to market social media approach through 2010. A sample from the March 2008 content states that "all of the Sage CRM products will include adoption of new Web-Oriented Architecture (WOA) ... to ensure that the integration capability of the products evolves to provide services-based integration for all product lines." Other CRM vendors, including Oracle, SAP, and, have also announced or built CRM 2.0 technologies into their core product offerings.

CRM 2.0 Best Practices

Analyst firm Forrester Research recommends several CRM 2.0 best practices for organizations to benefit from social media technologies. The following extracts are from Forrester's best practices for CRM practitioners research:

  • Support customer-to-customer interaction. Sharing resources via file exchanges (such as VoIP and content networks) allows nodes in the network - in other words, individuals - to sustain one another and to rely less on institutional support.
  • Embrace customers as co-creators. Soliciting user input is cheaper, better, and faster than more-structured, top-down methods of product development. This means complete strangers can co-develop open-source software and collaborative information banks such as Wikipedia. As more people tote camera phones with Internet access and install web cams and microphones at home, user-generated content will provide companies with great insight.
  • Understand the new consumer-behavior patterns. Although social computing is having a profound effect on buyers, it affects different types of consumers in different ways. Effective next-generation CRM strategies will be grounded in a deep understanding of social consumer behavior as well as more-traditional demographic and psychographic attributes.
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